Saturday, July 19, 2008

First Refrigerator Mom theory, now Girly Daddy theory: Mike Savage on Autism

I wish I didn't know anyone who held his views, but I've met a few of them. Mike Savage is about as fluffy of a conservative as you can get, but people like fluffy talk show hosts who splatter their thoughtlessness into public space. He's really seemed to pick this up as a new focus. If you visit his website right now he has links to articles from such prominent medical authorities as Thomas Sowell and a website called "skeptico" claiming autism is falsely diagnosed and that there is no epidemic. On the epidemic question I completely agree. There isn't one and I'd prefer not to have false advocates more interested in their funding than in my social well being running around screaming as if I were an infectious disease.ˆ But I take that from the perspective of ok shut up and respect me for who I am. Coming from a person like him, he's trying to present it as evidence that "it's a fraud" and that I'm a girly man. In his words:

They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life. Stop acting like a putz. Straighten up. Act like a man. Don't sit there crying and screaming, idiot.

Followed so eloquently with phrases including:

You're turning your son into a girl, and you're turning your nation into a nation of losers and beaten men. That's why we have the politicians we have.

My wife reminds me, his comments display bizzare sexism. There is nothing "girly" about autism and the suggestion that temper tantrums are a female trait makes you wonder if he even knows any children. Autism is somewhere between 4-7 times as common in boys than in girls (depending on the statistical methodology used and which subtype of the population being discussed) and repeated studies have shown autism has nothing to do with parenting techniques. Child abuse on the other hand, can have everything to do with fake tough guy attitudes very similar to the ones advocated by the Savage individual referred to above.

If you find this as disgusting as I do, the contact information for protest is here:

Michael Savage AR

Talk Radio NetworkRDDDSDD The Savage Nation
Talk Radio Network CDDDSLSAThe Savage Nation
Talk Radio Network CLDDSDCLThe Paul Revere Society
P.O. Box 3755 CLEACLDDDE...150 Shoreline Hwy, Bldge E
Central Point, Oregon 97502 CLMill Valley, CA 94941
Phone: 541-664-8827 CLEDALEFax: 415-339-938
Fax: 541-664-6250

ˆFor those interested in hairsplitting, the organizations referred to regarding claims of epidemics make no distinction between traditional autism and aspergers when presenting their statistics so I am literally part of what they refer to when they say epidemic. Real scientists pay attention to such differences and debate their significance but the fund raising advocates have little interest in anything but riding the wave of attention autism has received.


Andy said...

There seems to be a strong tendency among republican editorialists and talk show hosts to see themselves in a battle with the forces of political correctness. They believe that they are being oppressed by evil liberals who are trying to force them not to be racist, sexist, or hateful toward anyone different from them. Oddly they seem to draw much of their audience from the Christian right even though their programs are often based on hating or disrespecting others. I'm disturbed that these people still have an audience left after saying such things.

CrouchingOwl said...

I find it pretty disturbing too. But there are more people in the world who have delegated their responsibility to think than there are people who have time to even try to research good facts upon which to base thought, so its not too surprising.

I've found it strange too that there is such a conflict between political correctness and right wing christian commentators. A few are so set on this idea of battle that they almost present themselves as being virtuous on the basis of their lack of political correctness . Ann Coulter in particular comes to mind. If you can't be right on the political correctness agenda (read dripping sarcasm into that part) then at least we should be focused on being right by a more principled standard including a central idea of love.

I think the problem is that in Western Civilization, Love is something that was advocated by Christianity internally more than through external forms and social norms. So we can preach the religion of love and murder anyone who disagrees on the mode of sacrament, baptism, or any other detail. Unfortunately that violent tendency started with those fighting the official institutions but in response to those violent actions the institutions adopted the same flaws, thus leading to internal promotion of love and respect and external violence and hatred.

Wasn't until Voltaire that someone pointed out how drastically inconsistent this was. We keep trying to learn it and different epochs of Western Civilization learn it more or less in regards to different subjects. With the advent of nationalism, modern communication, and cross cultural contact we are learning to deal with these issues on more fronts at once than ever before. Perfect mix to drive a traditionalist nuts.

Marx tried to write all of history off as class conflict. Sometimes I wonder if we shouldn't replace that idea with whether we've learned to love people different than ourselves, which would subsume all of the nationalistic, religious, and class conflicts into one whole.

In Christianity the parable of the good Samaritan and the story of the woman caught in adultery both emphasize the point of forgiveness and love towards to those who are different than ourselves. But in Western Civilization it took Voltaire, who met the modern conservative criteria for a godless morally disgusting unpatriotic liberal if anyone does, to wake us up to those points. So I'm fond of all those "politically correct" liberals who I don't view as godless, as modern Voltaire's they can remind us of who we really are and what we really believe.

Andy said...

I think that it is easy to discount Marx because most of what he said seem fairly obvious today. People disagree on the degree to which his theory is applicable, but in his day class conflict was sort of the elephant in the room that nobody was talking about. I think that asking why society is structured as it is critical. Because that's how it has always been is just too easy of an answer and usually it is wrong.

While I agree that loving everyone would be a better way to be, framing the conversation that way doesn't seem to work. Lots of people talk about universal love, but usually they really mean loving everyone but the lower classes. For example, the politicians in New Orleans love the poor and hate to see them living in substandard public housing, so they used the evacuation order as an opportunity to tear down the low income housing complexes to build shopping centers and luxury condos. Essentially, they love the poor so much that they wish they would all go away.

CrouchingOwl said...

My point exactly.